Although Kona isn’t happening this year, top professional triathletes are still working towards incremental gains across the board. For many, this includes at least one bike fitting session per year, to shore up weak spots, and find additional new opportunities for speed – whether that be with equipment, technique, or position.
We had a chance to correspond with Anne Haug, along with her bike fitter, Daniel Schade. Using the gebioMized system (and saddle), they spent a day finding those last few percentage points.
Slowtwitch: Please describe how you began working with Anne.
Daniel Schade: Anne and me met first time in spring 2019 in preparation for the long distance season. The main focus last year was on stabilizing the saddle contact. This means we tried to increase her comfort on the saddle and reduced lateral movements and front-back shifts of the pelvis on the saddle. One game changer in the fit process last year was switching to the gebioMized Stride tri saddle. As you might have seen at the Ironman Copenhagen or in her bike split in Kona, her pelvis was really stable and she could hold the aero-position for nearly the whole bike split. In my opinion this was one reason for her fabulous run performance at the World Championships.
Slowtwitch: What were your goals during the bike fit session with her?
Schade: Because of her stable and comfortable position from last year, we tried to make some‚ reasonable updates to the position in 2020. Anne adopted the 2019 position in a very good way, so we identified some room for additional tweaks in regard to aerodynamics. I would say we try to find an updated balance between aerodynamics and biomechanics which includes certain mechanical adjustments and even more important some aero posture coaching.
Slowtwitch: What are the key things you try to address with any bike fit - professional or amateur?
Schade: I always follow the same principle: At first make sure that the position is stable and comfortable enough for the duration of the race. If you work with long distance triathletes you have to keep in mind the long time on the bike plus the additional marathon. So in my opinion it does not make sense to create super aggressive positions if you aren’t sure that the athlete is capable of holding it. So, biomechanics first before we even talk about aerodynamics – and this is valid for both pros and age group athletes. Create a stable and comfortable contact to the saddle, set the correct seat height and build a reasonable cockpit setup which leads to a balanced weight distribution between saddle and cockpit. If that’s done, you have got a solid fundament and you can fine-tune here and there based on the individual specifics of the athlete. From a bike fitter’s perspective I love to combine fit technology like pressure mapping and motion capture with my own eye and experience to make my fit decisions.
Slowtwitch: What improvements were made with Anne during this recent bike fit?
Schade: Our 2020 baseline measurements show the adaption in the 2019 season. Therefore, we decided to make slight adjustments to the saddle position to prepare for some changes in the cockpit setup: We adjusted the cockpit tilt to reduce some stress in the shoulders. Additionally the new cockpit position supports the upper body in sinking more into the arm rests. Because of this change we also adjusted the saddle position again to increase pelvis stability even further. The weight distribution between front-end and saddle is now slightly more aggressive, but I am confident that Anne can get used to that position. We worked on her aero posture intensively within the session and now it is time for her to adopt and get used to the posture ideas we have created. We will make some re-checks after a couple of weeks to see if the adaptation process works well.
Slowtwitch: Please let us know if there is anything else you'd like to add!
Schade: As always it was a pleasure to work with such an open-minded and enthusiastic athlete like Anne. Her feedback is really helpful to develop the position further and further. And I think her case really show an important element of bike fitting: It is not about a single event, but about process. The right balance of adjustment, adaptation, re-adjustments and posture coaching leads to the most promising result. So there is definitely no need to stop here.
Slowtwitch: What prompted you to get a new bike fit? Were there specific issues or problems that needed to be addressed?
Haug: My goal is to alway improve myself. I just started long course triathlon two years ago. So we had to be careful with the new TT position at the beginning. It´s a slow process to get used to a more aerodynamic position.
Slowtwitch: How did you choose Gebiomized? How long have you been working with them?
Haug: Gebiomized is one of the best companies when it comes to bike fitting. They are super experienced with high performance athletes and I work with them since I´ve moved to long course triathlon 2018.
Slowtwitch: Were you testing any specific equipment (i.e. saddles, handlebars, shoes/cleats/pedals)? What saddle are you using for 2020?
Haug: I had a lot of issues with saddles in the past. But riding the Gebiomized Stride is just a relief. I never thought that it´s possible to sit so comfortable on a TT bike. Because I´m injury prone in my hip area, it´s super important for me to have a good support through the saddle.
Slowtwitch: How is your fitness level currently? And how has COVID affected your training?
Haug: I think my training is going really well and I have a solid base endurance level. I´m not peaking for anything, just putting consistent work into my body. COVID has just affected my swim training in the beginning. Like everyone else I was not able to get into the water for 4 weeks. I´m very lucky that I still have the chance to train at the Olympic training center in Saarbrücken. Because it´s a quite isolated training area I can do my training without major restrictions.
Big thanks to our friends at DT Swiss for helping to arrange these interviews! Photo credit: @franziskaschmidtphotos / @gebiomized